There can’t be many more rewarding pastimes than growing your own marijuana. No matter if you are cultivating it for recreational or medicinal use, seeing that tiny seed grow into a healthy plant and then reaping the benefits of its consumption can’t be beaten.
You don’t need any gardening background before you take up growing marijuana. Weed is a tough plant and is pretty easy to grow. If you are anything like us, the only plant you’d ever recognize would be a marijuana plant anyway!
But you still have to take care of your plant’s needs from start to finish, and you will need to put some time and effort into the process. The whole process from planting to harvest will take between 3 and 6 months.
Why Grow Marijuana?
If you’ve ever spoken to a keen gardener or even someone who has grown some herbs in a pot in their kitchen, you’ll hear them say how gratifying it is to grow their own is and that the outcome is much tastier. This might be a placebo effect, but if you have been in control of how your plant has been looked after and the chemicals that have been used, we are sure you’ll get a sweeter taste.
While there are some initial costs, growing your own plant can be an excellent investment in the long run. You’ll also find that your monthly utility bills will rise as you’ll use more electricity and water to grow your plants, but even with these costs factored in, it’s still cheaper. Once you get the process down and have enough weed for your requirements, you can forgo further trips to the local dispensary.
Another advantage is that you’ll never run out. Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t get hold of your favorite strain and had to decide on another one? This will be a thing of the past. If you have ailments that only medicinal cannabis can alleviate, it’s even more beneficial as you don’t want to be in a situation where you have run out.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses, or sunshine and marijuana for that matter, if we want to stay on topic. There are some downsides; for instance, if the plants get diseased or eaten by pests, it’s a guarantee that some (or even all) of them won’t survive.
At a dispensary, you have a wider choice of strains to choose from. It is also a lot more convenient, just picking up the weed and enjoying it rather than having to wait up to 6 months to be able to harvest your plants.
Our advice would be to start small, even just one plant to see how you get on. This will be relatively inexpensive and a great trial run before going all-in.
Cannabis has been grown since the dawn of civilization and enjoyed for its medicinal and mind-altering properties. It’s only in the modern age that it has been demonized, though, in recent years, it is starting to be seen in a new light, especially as a medicinal herb. While there are still restrictions in place, many states have made both consuming and growing marijuana legal.
While users and growers of pot used to hide their activities in the shadows, though they weren’t doing anything particularly unethical, the barriers have now been lowered, and many of us can now grow it at home.
Before you consider growing cannabis at home, you should consult the local laws regarding marijuana cultivation in your area. You should be over 21 years of age in any state, but some also require licenses, and if you are planning on growing it to sell, it will require a specific permit. In some states, you are allowed to grow it but only in an area that is enclosed.
In Washington DC, for instance, citizens can cultivate plants in a private residence but are only allowed to grow up to six plants legally, and only three of them can be mature at a time.
Seeds and Strains
You should have no problem finding a wide range of online stores to buy marijuana seeds, though before you purchase, it is best to check if the company is reputable. Read online reviews and forums to find out what people are saying.
The most important thing when choosing your seeds is to realize that only the unpollinated female cannabis plant can produce top-quality buds that don’t contain seeds. If you grow a pollinated plant, the buds will contain seeds, and it will be very low in THC content, which means an extremely disappointing smoke. This is the last thing you want after all your hard work nurturing the plant. You should purchase unpollinated female seeds from a trusted source.
If you want your cannabis seeds to last, then you should keep them in a sealed container in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a drawer, cupboard, or even your refrigerator. When maintained correctly, your stored seeds should last years. Their main nemesis will be humidity, as well as light and temperature change.
There are 3 main types of marijuana that you can grow.
Indicia is probably the best variety for someone just starting growing weed at home. These plants are typically short and wide, with marble-patterned leaves; they usually are from 3 to 6 feet high. They also grow faster, flowering somewhere between the 7th and 9th week, and produce higher yields.
Indica is known for its relaxing properties and is great for unwinding after a tough day. It grows better in cooler climates, which probably is why it’s such an excellent plant for chilling!
A popular Indica strain, especially for beginners, is Grand Daddy Purple. This strain can be grown both indoors and outdoors and is an extremely potent, high-yield plant. It gets its name from its purple-colored buds. It gives off a nice buzz and is known for being excellent for insomnia and pain relief.
Sativa plants are thinner, with more pointed leaves and no patterns on them. They take longer to flower, usually between 12 to 16 weeks; they can also grow up to 20 feet in height, which can be quite shocking if you weren’t expecting it! Sativa prefers warmer climates. When smoked or ingested, it is said to give you an energetic high and can be a great mood booster.
Blue Dream is a sativa dominant strain that you probably know as it is the most popular cannabis strain in the USA. It’s 80% Sativa and 20% Indica, giving it a great uplifting ability, making it helpful in fighting against depression and pain. Weed growers love this strain because it is resistant to root rot and powdery mildew. This is a better option for sunny outdoor weather as it grows pretty big. It will produce high-yields if planted outdoors, but it is fine for the indoors you have the room.
This is a mix of Indica and Sativa, and the percentage of each strain in the mix can vary; some will be sativa-dominant and others indica-dominant, or even split fifty-fifty. Some are very high-yielding, and many are bred to be resistant against pests. The times of flowering vary.
If you are looking for a great, easy-to-grow hybrid, we’d pick GG4, also known as Gorilla Glue 4. This one is split straight down the middle with 50% Sativa and 50% Indica. It has a very high THC content (up to 25%). It gives you an uplifting feeling, so it is excellent for depression treatment. Plus, it offers strong pain relief, so it is also suitable for arthritis and inflammation treatment. Flowering time for GG4 is usually after 8 to 9 weeks. It will give a decent yield indoors, but it will really thrive outdoors.
Regular, Feminized and Auto-flowering Marijuana Seeds
The type of seed is another thing that should be taken into consideration. We briefly touched on this when we talked about unpollinated female seeds and how they contained more THC content.
Regular: Regular cannabis seeds have a 50-50 chance of being male or female. If you are just starting growing weed, they can be a good option as they are inexpensive compared to the other types of seeds. The main disadvantage is that there is no way of telling the male and female plants apart until they are at least 3 or 4 weeks old, so it may turn out that you have spent your time growing a large percentage of male plants that you don’t want. Regular seeds are usually preferred by cannabis breeders looking to create a new strain or collect pollen.
Feminized: Feminized seeds are specially bred to remove male plants from the equation. Most people are growing it for consumption, and the female marijuana plant is rich in THC and CBD, unlike its male counterpart. If you purchase feminized seeds right from the get-go, you will know that you will only be cultivating plants that produce cannabis. If you want to maximize your space and produce a higher yield, then they are a better option than regular seeds, though they are more expensive.
Auto-flowering: These seeds have been adapted to flower with no change in the light cycle. This type of seed is probably the best for beginners as they are particularly easy and fast to grow, and very resilient. The THC levels are typically lower than the feminized seeds but are high in CBD, so they are ideal for medical use.
Indoor or Outdoor Pros and Cons
Some of you will have no option regarding the choice to grow your weed indoors or outside. For example, when you live in an apartment or your state laws prohibit you from growing marijuana outdoors. But if you do have a choice, here are the pros and cons of outdoor and indoor growing.
Advantages of Growing Marijuana Outdoors
Cheapest option: There is very little needed to get started with growing weed outside as long as your plants get some sun. All you will need are your seeds, soil, and fertilizer. There are no extra costs for electricity or specific products to buy.
Higher yields: Growing your plants outdoors means that you can allow them to grow big and tall, which will obviously result in a much bigger crop. This is another cost-effective advantage of outdoor growing.
A great outdoor hobby: Getting some fresh air and looking after your crop is an excellent outdoor pastime. It’s also an environmentally-friendly one as you aren’t using lots of electricity to grow your plants as you would be indoors.
Disadvantages of Growing Marijuana Outdoors
- Environmental factors – Basically, you can’t control the sun or the weather. If the environmental conditions aren’t optimal for growing your plants, there is little you can do.
- Easier to see – If you are growing your plants outside, it’s very easy for your neighbors to pry and for opportunists to steal them.
Insects and animals: There are all sorts of pests and animals that will enjoy eating and digging up your marijuana plants. This is less of an issue indoors, but you’ll still have to be careful if you have pet dogs or cats as some do enjoy nibbling at marijuana leaves.
Advantages of Growing Marijuana Indoors
Grow the best quality weed: As you have total control over the environment indoors, you can cultivate high-quality marijuana by using all your resources optimally.
Harvest your crop multiple times: As you aren’t reliant on the sun and don’t need to worry about seasonal planting when growing your plants indoors, you have a lot more flexibility to produce multiple harvests.
More Private and secure: Even if growing weed outdoors is legal in your state, there are still some folks who don’t approve of people growing or smoking it. Some neighbors can make your life difficult and be very judgemental if they see that you are growing cannabis. Others may pester you for some free pot, which may actually be even worse! There also are security issues; it is much easier for a thief to steal your crop from your yard than it is from inside your house or apartment.
Disadvantages of Growing Marijuana Indoors
Mold: One of the biggest problems that an indoor weed grower will face is mold, so you need to make sure the right safeguards are in place to prevent this from occurring. Mold won’t be just an issue for your plants but can get on to the walls and, in some cases, affect your health.
Expense: An indoor setup is a lot more expensive than the outdoor with the equipment needed and the ongoing electricity costs.
You need plenty of space: Depending on how much you are going to grow, you still need the space indoors to keep your plants. If you are not careful, and especially if you choose the wrong strain, they can end up taking over your home like Triffids!
How to Grow Marijuana Indoors
If you choose to grow your weed indoors, ensure that the seeds are good for indoor use. While most are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, some strains can only be grown outdoors.
Decide On A Grow Room
The first decision you will need to make is where you are going to set up your designated grow area. We advise starting small with one to three plants. Mistakes are easily made even by experienced growers, so instead of wasting all your seeds, get your feet wet first and learn from any mistakes.
You don’t necessarily need a large space for cultivating your plants. A small tent, cabinet, walk-in wardrobe, or a spare room would all be suitable. You also need to factor in that you will need room for equipment, such as lights and fans, and realize that your plants will need room to grow.
Keeping the grow room clean will be one important task that you will need to carry out regularly, ideally a couple of times a week. It shouldn’t take you long and will protect the plants from fungal and bacterial diseases and pests.
Light is going to be our next topic and is critical for your plants, but just like us, plants need their rest time and a certain amount of time of darkness. If light seeps into the grow room at the wrong time, then your plants will get confused, and it could result in them producing low THC male flowers.
Convenience and discretion are two other factors that you want to think about. You will want to have the plants growing somewhere where they are easily accessible and, at the same time, out of the way. Remember, there will be noise from fans, buzzing from the lights, and a reasonably strong odor from the plants, which might be an irritant to yourself or neighbors.
Choosing Your Lights
Lighting is one area that you don’t want to scrimp on; though it might take a big chunk out of your budget in the beginning, in the long term, you’ll thank yourself for making a wise decision.
Fluorescent: This light source is the cheapest and simplest type to set up, though it is also the least efficient. It could be a good option if you are just starting out with a couple of plants and are not sure if you want to carry on growing long term or not. This way, you can start on a budget and if you enjoy growing your own, you can upgrade at a later date.
LED: If cost is no issue and you can afford to go with LED, then it is recommended. LEDs don’t use much energy or create much heat, and they also can help produce high-quality plants and higher yields. But be aware that LED isn’t a little more expensive, it’s a lot more!
HID: Between fluorescents and LEDs, in cost and efficiency are HID [high-intensity discharge]; these are probably the most popular amongst growers. There are two main types: Metal Halide that is used for the vegetative growth stage and High-Pressure Sodium lights for the flowering stage. There are also other accessories needed that push up the costs but everything required will still cost less than using LED.
Air Flow and a Temperature Control System
Just like us, plants need air to flourish. For indoor growing, a constant stream of air needs to flow through the grow room. There are many different types of fans that can be purchased for your grow room setup and will depend on the number of your plants and your budget. Marijuana plants can easily be affected by stagnant air, which can result in disease, but a fan will prevent this.
You’ll need to set up some sort of control system for light and temperature, so a 24-hour timer will be required to supply the right amount of light and darkness to your plants and an adjustable thermostat to maintain the correct temperature.
The temperature should be around 70 to 85°F when the lights are switched on and 58 to 70°F when switched off for most strains. At the vegetative growth stage, they will need around 16 to 20 hours of light, but once they have reached the flowering stage, the time will be divided equally between 12 hours of light and the remaining 12 hours in the dark.
Choose Your Marijuana Grow Medium
If you are growing weed indoors, there are two main ways to grow your seeds: soil or hydroponic. We would recommend soil if this is your first time round as it is cheaper and easier than using a hydroponic system.
We would also suggest choosing organic soil that is pre-fertilized as this will save you adding any extra nutrients during the growing process.
Choose a Container
You don’t need to overthink this step of the process; just be aware that marijuana plants are not happy in water-logged conditions. So a standard plant pot with holes in the bottom and a saucer for the drained water is fine. If you are using a container with no holes, then ensure that you perforate the bottom for drainage. There are other options, such as smart pots and air pots that have some added benefits, but as we said, let’s keep the process simple for now.
As your plants grow, they will obviously need more water to thrive. But don’t overwater them, because you could end up killing them. There is no exact formula for determining how much water your plants require or how often; if your plant is looking healthy, then it will prove you are doing something right!
How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors
If state laws and the climate permit you to grow your crop outdoors, then it can be a fun experience. If you have had some previous gardening experience, all the better.
Choosing Your Grow Space
You can plant your plants in containers or straight in the ground, but it should be in an area with plenty of direct sunlight, ideally 4 to 6 hours a day. If you can find a good spot with a constant breeze, this will be even better. Many weed growers prefer to use pots as then, you can move them around if needed and follow the sun.
Planting Your Seeds
If you choose to pot or plant in the ground, the best soil to use is the silt-rich variety, as it offers superb drainage, warms fast and holds its moisture.
Watering Your Outdoor Plants
Outdoor marijuana plants grow a whole lot bigger than the indoor variety so will require plenty of water. Rainwater can provide your plants with plenty of water but if there is a lot of rain, be careful not to let your plants become waterlogged as the roots of the plant are vulnerable to fungal diseases. A large cannabis plant in hot weather requires around 10 gallons of water each day.
Harvesting Your Crop
The simplest way to know if a bud is ripe and ready to harvest is to check the pistils. The white pistils will start to change color once they start flowering. When around 50 to 70% of the pistils have turned brown, orange, or red, it’s time to harvest.
Another method that is popular with weed growers is to inspect the trichomes to decide when to harvest the plants. This is the sticky, resin that is full of that lovely THC. To check the trichomes, some sort of magnifier will be needed. When most of them have turned to amber, you are ready to harvest.
Once you have determined it’s time to harvest you’ll need to get your equipment ready.
- Scissors or shears
- Rubber or latex gloves
- A clothesline or something similar for hanging the plants from
- String, twine or ties to attach the plant to the line
- Tray or tub to place the branches when cut
Now that you are prepared with the right equipment, you can begin to harvest. If your plants are small, you can cut them at the main stem, but if they are large with lots of branches, it is best to chop each one down separately.
When you cut down your plants, try not to damage the flowers; go gentle. Also, avoid touching the buds as it will stick to your hand, and you’ll be losing a small amount of THC each time.
Once you have cut all the branches, use the twine, string, or ties to hang them upside down from the clothesline or whatever you are using to suspend them from. Now prune the large fan leaves of the plant with your scissors.
Drying and Curing Your Crop
So now you have your branches hanging from a line, they should be dried somewhere dark with a temperature of around 65 to 75°F (8 to 24°C) with a relative humidity of around 45–55%. While the weed is drying, there should be a slow constant airflow to prevent mold.
Allow the weed to dry for between 3 days and a week before going to the curing stage. You will know when the weed is dry enough as the stems will snap rather than bend.
Remove the buds from the stems and then store them in clean glass containers; mason jars are a good option. Fill the container so it is around three-quarters full, so there is room for air, which will reduce the risk of mold destroying your crop. Store the jars somewhere dry and dark, and check them every day. When you carry out this daily ritual, leave the lid off for a while to let the air circulate a little and check each bud for any sight of mold.
Your harvest should be ready to enjoy after around two weeks but just like an aged wine, if you cure it for longer, say one to two months, you’ll experience more flavor and a stronger aroma from your weed.
Growing weed might not be for everybody but for many, it is a fruitful and pleasurable pastime. Starting out small with a plant or two is an inexpensive and low maintenance way to begin and once you’ve got your feet wet, you can decide to grow more or go back to buying ready-grown weed.